World Cup Math

How many teams are playing in the 2014 World Cup? How many countries have ever won it? What are the odds that Brazil, this year's host country and 5-time winner, will win again? Keep on reading to find out and learn all about the math behind the World Cup.

Jason Marshall, PhD
4-minute read
Episode #202

                  World Cup 2014

I'm a huge soccer fan.

I started playing the beautiful game when I was 5 years old and I've been playing fairly regularly ever since. I'm also a big fan of watching soccer in person and on the tele—go Galaxy (my home town team)! Which is exactly why I'm so excited that this year's World Cup is getting underway this week in Brazil.

While you may not have known it, the World Cup is full of great math fun facts. Since we've been talking about some pretty serious math topics the past few weeks, it seems like a great time to lighten up a bit. So sit back, relax, and get ready for a dose of World Cup math..

How Many Teams? Players? Games?

Let's start with the basics:

The World Cup is held every 4 years. It's a soccer tournament (aka, football to those of you who don't live in the U.S.) that features 32 national teams representing various countries around the world.

For the 2014 World Cup, 203 teams attempted to qualify, playing 820 matches in all and scoring scoring a total of 2,303 goals.

There are 23 players on the final roster of each team, so there are a total of 736 players hoping to see the field over the next few weeks.

This is the 20th ever World Cup, and only 8 teams have ever won the tournament.

Will this year's World Cup yield a new 9th ever winner? That depends a lot on how Brazil, the host country, ends up playing. Because they are by far the favorite to win again. What are their odds?


About the Author

Jason Marshall, PhD

Jason Marshall is the author of The Math Dude's Quick and Dirty Guide to Algebra. He provides clear explanations of math terms and principles, and his simple tricks for solving basic algebra problems will have even the most math-phobic person looking forward to working out whatever math problem comes their way.